After an off day Monday, the Blue Jackets were back at it this morning with an 11:00 a.m. practice on the main ice at Nationwide Arena.
The team was split into three groups, signified by three different colored jerseys (white, blue and red) for some scrimmaging and drills.
The goaltending tandem of Sergei Bobrovsky and Curtis McElhinney split the workload, and all healthy players were present and accounted for. Defenseman David Savard left practice a bit early for maintenance reasons, per head coach John Tortorella.
“We don’t want him over practicing,” Tortorella said of Savard. “He’s still banged up a little bit playing through some stuff. We’ll let it be his call as far as how much he can practice, because we know he wants to be out there. (We want to) keep him ready to play the games.”
At one point during a power play drill, Tortorella stopped everything and laid four pucks down in front of center Alexander Wennberg in an effort to instill more of a shooting mindset and a little less of a passing mindset.
Shortly afterwards, Wennberg shot the puck and scored during the drill. Immediately, Tortorella threw his hands up in the air, Wennberg’s teammates all jumped on him and the management cheered on from their suite.
“It was great,” Tortorella said of the moment. “I had my hands up in the air. I was so happy that he scored. We’re trying to get him to shoot more. The way it all worked out, it worked out perfectly. I would’ve liked to seen him score on one of those four pucks we had him shoot, but then he scored after. I just want it to click in that that’s part of the game, too.”
Tortorella said he’s explained to Wennberg that there are no secrets in the NHL — coaches and players watch tape and know what to expect when he has the puck.
“They know your strength is your passing and that that’s what you’re going to do most of the time,” Tortorella said he told Wennberg. “I said, ‘instead of the 85 percent passing, let’s get that to maybe 65 percent passing and shoot the puck a little bit more.’ And more passing plays are going to open up for him because he has a good shot, too.”
Tortorella wants his players to have the mentality of shots turning into passes, as well, whether it's a broken play or a rebound.
“A lot of goals are scored in this league by rebounds," Tortorella said. "That’s what he has to understand, it’s still a really good play shooting the puck even though you don’t think you can score that goal.”
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